Chairman Sarbanes, Senator Gramm, and members of the committee, thank you for holding this hearing today on my nomination to be Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is an honor to appear before this committee.
I would like to express my deep appreciation to President Bush for nominating me for this position, and to Director Joe Allbaugh for the trust and confidence he has shown in me. The nation, particularly since September 11, recognizes the outstanding leadership of the President and Director Allbaugh, and it would be a privilege to serve alongside them.
I want to thank Senator DeWine for his kind introductory remarks and for giving me an opportunity to serve the country as an attorney on his Judiciary subcommittee. Senator DeWine, former Senator Slade Gorton, the late Judge William L. Dwyer, the late Marian P. Diggs and Alice Warinner, have all taught me to strive for the public good, intellectual excellence, personal integrity, and then, to pass it on. Thank you.
If confirmed, I would be the first Administrator for the newly realigned, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. Last August, Director Allbaugh, as part of a major realignment within FEMA, brought together the former Federal Insurance Administration and the former Mitigation Directorate into a single organization, the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA). All of the resources of the separate organizations are now merged under the new FIMA to form a cohesive unit to coordinate the delivery of the nation's natural hazard reduction programs. These programs have been called the cornerstone of emergency management since they focus on the protection of life and property.
As Administrator of FIMA, I would be an outspoken advocate for the Administrationís mission to protect lives and reduce the loss of property from natural hazards. My vision is for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration to become the premier all-hazard agency across the Federal government. I believe we can do this by building upon our strong public and private sector partnerships to substantially protect our homeland from the risks of natural disasters.
I have enjoyed my meetings with both Members and staff leading up to this hearing. If confirmed, it would be my hope to continue the exchange of ideas we have already begun. I appreciate the important role the authorizing Committee plays, not only in the passage of our governing legislation, but also in the counsel you offer to ensure the law reflects its highest intent
and serves the best interests of our nation. You provide an invaluable resource that I hope to avail the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration as I carry out the duties of my new job.
I am committed to peopleís needs. Recently, while walking the streets of La Plata, Maryland, I observed the tragic destruction and suffering left in the wake of the tornado, and it reminded me of the absolute necessity for me to do the right things, for the right reasons, and at the right time. So many people in need depend on us.
In an earlier disaster, a victim was looking at her flooded home and ruined belongings when she asked a simple but profound question, "Why did they ever let people build here in the first place?" Each level of government must take stock in answering it. The programs of Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration are working, and will continue to work with State and local governments to reduce future suffering and prevent losses in areas subject to hazards. As a Redmond City Planning Commissioner, many of these programs guided our development decisions to keep our community from harms way.
Mitigation and insurance Ė these are the two pillars of FIMA that form the cornerstone of emergency management. Mitigation is a hard term to define but actions speak far louder than words. Mitigation means building safer and smarter in areas prone to natural hazards. It means elevating new construction in the flood plains above harmís reach, and, in some cases, keeping buildings out of harmís way by not building in certain areas in the first place. Where mistakes have been made in the past, mitigation means removing buildings out of harmís way. It means retrofitting buildings in the floodplains and in earthquake-prone areas to withstand future damage. It means designing and encouraging "safe" rooms in tornado alley.
And, knowing that our efforts cannot prevent all future damages from the forces of nature, we have insurance. We are, after all, east of Eden, and we know we will experience the inevitable upheavals of nature. So we have insurance to protect people from financial hardship and ruin after a natural disaster. Here, we can encourage all property owners to buy private-sector insurance to cover their losses from wind and fire and hail. And because there is a gap in the private sector for flood coverage, Congress authorized the National Flood Insurance Program. Through the flood program, FIMA will continue to provide flood insurance protection to citizens who are at risk from water damage.
Mitigation and insurance -- they are the peopleís work. Last night, I read to my daughter Ashton, the story of Noah. In that story God told Noah specifically how to build the ark to ensure the survival of humanity. Mitigation and insurance are really Godís work. It is an honor to be nominated to discharge these duties for the nation.
With the guidance of Congress, the support of States and the private sector, and the active involvement of communities, I believe together, we can lead America to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from disasters.
Again, thank you for the consideration you have given me today. I would be happy to answer your questions.
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